Stunning season opener has set bar very high for Jets defense

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For an opener, the Jets drew rave reviews.

The encore? Their defense believes a return home will bring even stronger performances against the Dolphins in Week 2.

“Our mission this week is to step it up,” cornerback Morris Claiborne said by his locker Thursday afternoon. “We’re not taking this game as something we’re going to be stuck on. We trying to be better than that game.”

Week 1 and the five interceptions that Jets defenders collected in a 48-17 rout at Detroit are now in the rear view. All eyes are looking toward Sunday’s game against their divisional rivals.

Dolphins wideout Kenny Stills, fresh off a 75-yard touchdown reception, will provide an adversary with the ability to stretch the defense vertically.

“We went out last week and got our hands on some balls,” Claiborne said. “Throughout the week in practice, it was the same thing. It just carried over into the game. We coming with the same attitude this week.”

Tests of their mettle await at the Meadowlands. Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill completed 20 of 28 passes for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week. He also was intercepted twice. Tannehill will seek to deliver balls where Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford failed against the Jets.

The five interceptions raised eyebrows across the league, and the Jets believe their standard must rise, as well. Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said he knows attention must be paid with Stills on the field.

“The problem is the guy can take the roof off the defense and really fly,” he said. “[Tannehill] poses a lot of threats.”

Rodgers invoked the 24-hour rule immediately after Monday’s win. On a short week, he acknowledged the need to pivot toward preparation for Miami right away. He attributed part of his players’ ability to be in the right spot so often Monday night to the fact the Lions always were the first date on the calendar.

“All summer,” Rodgers said. “Had a lot of preparation time. Those guys were really locked in.”

Jets defensive coordinator Kacy RodgersBill Kostroun

The battery of Tannehill and Stills treks north with a win and two touchdowns already in hand. Rodgers acknowledged them as the headliners, but he also remains cognizant of the veteran in the backfield. Frank Gore, now in his 14th season with more than 14,000 yards on his odometer, carried the ball nine times for 61 yards last week. To focus on Gore and fellow back Kenyan Drake can leave the Jets vulnerable deep if the right balance is not struck.

“If you watch [Gore] on film, he’s still got plenty of gas in the tank,” Rodgers said. “They’ve got a 1-2 punch that can be hard to stop.”

Jets head coach Todd Bowles is a believer that a defense chirping to each other in sync during games is one that can be championship caliber.

“Communication is addictive,” he said, and his players continue to exchange thoughts on what they can do to top the season debut.

“I think that would be very tough to do every game, but if we could cause a turnover, get the offense the ball back with a sudden change, that is huge,” Bowles said.

Darron Lee, the linebacker who recorded two interceptions in Detroit, noted that Rodgers didn’t need to remind anyone to move on from his big night.

Linebacker Avery Williamson, who said “the sky’s the limit for what this unit can be,” lauded Lee’s performance as “phenomenal,” but also noted one of the team’s core values is “not letting anyone get comfortable.”

“He should have had three [interceptions],” Williamson said. “Had his hands on a third one, couldn’t bring it down. He’s going to keep getting better.”

Lee walked around the locker room wearing a black T-shirt with a message of humility emblazoned across the front. It read: “Just a Boy from Chattanooga.”

Source : https://nypost.com/2018/09/14/stunning-season-opener-has-set-bar-very-high-for-jets-defense/